Letters and Opinion

Biologics misunderstood

March 30, 2013

In “Profits at center of biosimilars debate” [March 18], the author refers to attempted copies of biotech medicines as “generic biotech medicines.” This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of biosimilars.

Biologics are complex molecules that cannot be copied, whereas generics are exact copies of chemical drugs. Failure to understand this distinction results in a failure to understand why patient safety concerns are legitimate not only by drug companies, but by physicians who prescribe them.

As someone who treats patients whose health depends on access to biologics, it is troubling to me that the notion of alerting a patient that the medicine their physician prescribed them is being switched is onerous. There may be good reasons not to make a substitution, that a pharmacist may be unaware of, and it should be the physician’s role to help their patient make that decision.

Patients and their physicians deserve to know when a biologic that has been working to keep them alive is being substituted.

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Dr. David Blank
 

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